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Casa de mi Padre

House of My Father 2012 | 84 min | R | 2.39:1

Casa de mi Padre


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Theatrical release date

 16 March, 2012
 08 June, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

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Screenshots from Casa de mi Padre Blu-ray

Casa de mi Padre Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 16, 2012

It’s difficult to tell if “Casa de mi Padre” is an experiment or an extended prank. A Spanish-language farce spearheaded by Will Ferrell, this is one oddball feature, making fun of telenovelas and those strange, stationary Mexican movies typically screened on Telemundo on Saturday afternoons. As bizarre as it aspires to be, “Casa de mi Padre” isn’t nearly as insane as it could’ve been. Something tells me the production didn’t want to overwhelm audiences with a steady display of comedic madness, instead portioning out the lunacy carefully, hoping to maintain interest in this spread of Mexican violence, song, and sex.

Loyal to his father and the family ranch, Armando (Will Ferrell) is viewed as a moron, second best to his drug-dealing brother, Raul (Diego Luna). When Raul returns home with his fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez, “Man on a Ledge”), Armando’s passion is awakened, showing inappropriate interest in his brother’s future bride. As Armando and Sonia learn to navigate their unstoppable attraction to each other, trouble arrives in the form of Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), a flashy drug lord well aware of Raul’s plans to overtake him. Caught in the middle of this war, orchestrated by DEA Agent Parker (Nick Offerman), Armando must summon his courage and deflect Onza’s wrath, also hoping to secure Sonia’s heart as he defends his beloved land.

“Casa de mi Padre” is a broad comedy, a parody without any particular subject to pants. Instead, the production drinks in the wilds of low budget Mexican filmmaking, with an exaggerated tone of machismo and lust signaling to the audience that this is no ordinary melodrama, but a feature that shares its nostril flaring and orgy of violence with a pronounced wink. Shot in “MexicoScope,” the picture swiftly establishes its absurd tone, with director Matt Piedmont lingering eternally on laughs shared between Armando and his buddies, also ordering up an opening title sequence that resembles a James Bond event, complete with a catchy theme song performed by Christina Aguilera. “Casa de mi Padre” opens big and loud, allowing the audience to get comfortable with the ridiculousness that’s about to commence. Although the simple image of Will Ferrell, the whitest man on the planet, in a widescreen Mexican extravaganza is enough to set the mood.

The feature is 100% comedy, never pausing to take itself seriously. The intense focus on silly business is appreciated, yet “Casa de mi Padre” doesn’t snowball as expected. Despite the film’s fondness for stupidity and shoddy production achievements (backgrounds are clearly painted, edits are butchered, and mannequins are obvious during stunt and sex scenes), Peidmont doesn’t thunder ahead with a stream of references and ludicrousness. The overt jokes are rather infrequent and relaxed, requiring the actors to work on their heaving delivery while the details of the frame snatch the laughs. Because the concept of the movie is so outrageous, I expected something larger than life from Ferrell and the gang. Unexpectedly, “Casa de mi Padre” is relatively tame when it comes to mindlessness, finding more joy in Armando’s inability to roll a cigarette than the potential of his heroic posture.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of stupidity here to capture attention. The midsection of the movie is devoted to teachings from a lion puppet, which encourages a wounded Armando to expand his consciousness and assemble his courage. A few musical numbers litter the film as well, allowing Ferrell to break out in song, adding flavor to the mockery. To establish some edge, the violence is overstated, lingering on gushing bullet wounds for every last drop of gore. The performances are equally embellished, with Ferrell strangely convincing as a Mexican screen idol, backed impressively by Rodriguez, who keeps up with the jesting while adding welcome sex appeal to a male-dominated picture (Armando and Sonia’s love scene is simply a close-up marathon of derriere fondling by a campfire). And Luna and Bernal are entertaining as the battling drug kings, concentrating on chemical and cigarette habits (Onza smokes his Canadian Slims two at a time) to trigger giggles.

I didn’t laugh as much as I would’ve liked during “Casa de mi Padre,” but it remains a pleasurable feature, committed to the Mexican cinema experience from start to finish. There’s a special spark missing from the proceedings, an unleashed quality the picture could’ve benefited from, really going for the throat in terms of comedic targets and satiric tempo. Instead, it’s a mild, seldom irrational charade, appreciated more for its design than its delivery.

Starring: Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna (I), Genesis Rodriguez (I), Nick Offerman, Pedro Armendariz, Jr.
Director: Matt Piedmont

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